My Zero

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate March 2001

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MY ZERO         I shut the car door, the key turned, the car started--my mom was ready to take me to my drivers test. I knew that it wouldn't be hard, I had no trouble with driving before, so why would I now?         She put the car into reverse, "Now remember to put your seat belt on before you start the car," then she backed out of the driveway.

        I was already in the process of pulling the strap over my sholder and clicking it in.

I would have bet my whole life savings that she would have said that sometime during our trip to the DMV.

        My mom looked at me while she was driving down the road, heading towards the highway, "You know you are going to do fine, your brother passed his first time."         "Mom, I know, Jason isn't that good of a driver anyways. I'm not worried," as I nodded.

        When she stopped at the stoplights she pushed on the break very gingerly, bringing the car to a slow stop: she was trying to show me how it should be done.

I knew that she never drove like that anyways, why should she now? That sort of made me mad, but I understood.

        I shook my head saying, "Mom you don't have to drive like that, I know what I'm doing."         "Michael, I just want to make sure you have it all down."         "I do, I do. How about you just get me there, and I'll worry about my test." I felt sort of bad saying that because I probably sounded snotty. I knew her intentions were good, so I let it be.

        When she took her right turns, it seemed like the car wasn't even moving, and it bearly was, we were going less than 5 miles an hour. At this point I couldn't help but want to jump in the drivers seat and drive there myself. I turned on the music, layed back in the seat, closed my eyes-I knew I would be better if I just relaxed.

        If we wouldn't have left a hour early we would have never made it there on time.

My mom pulled in the parking lot and found a parking in the front where the people taking their driving tests are supposed to park. Besides a few of these parking spaces, it was full.

We unbukled and got out.

        "Do you think I'll go right away?"         "I don't know, by the looks of it, they seem busy. You might have to wait Michael," my mom replied.

        We walked in to find a crowded room full of people. I figured that they weren't all here for their drivers test, but I wasn't sure at the time.

        "Lets get in line before others come and skip us," I said. There was a long line.

The people went up, down, back and forth--all were strung within a maze of ropes. We stood in the line for a good ten minutes before I noticed the sign.

        "Mom, look at that sign, aren't we supposed to be over there?" There was a large sign above a seperate desk that said, "Divers Test."         My mom looked at me with an unplesent face. Then she sighed and said, "Yeah I suppose so." So then we walked over to the other line, with only one person in front of us, and waited.

        Two minutes later it was our turn, and we walked up to the desk together, and I told her my name, and gave her some personal information. My mom gave her a check, and she then turned to her computer and started to type it in. The lady at the desk then told us we could take a seat over by the window, so we walked over there to wait.

        Seconds later, the lady at the desk gets up and looks at my mom from behind her desk, "Do you have Michael's Social Security Card?"         My mom stood up and walked over to the lady with her perse in hand. When my mom came back I said, "Yeah I thought you said we had everything?"         She smiled sarcasticlly and said, "Yeah I gave her a copy of your Social Security, I didn't give her the card. You're lucky too, I was going to take your Social Security card out of my purse so I wouldn't lose it."         I smiled. "Yeah mom, I guess I am lucky, I probably wouldn't have been able to reschedule my test until next year."         My mom sat back down next to me on the bench. I noticed another girl and her mother sitting a few feet away from us. She was probably her for her drivers test too. I looked at her face, she was nervious, you could tell by her eyes. I could almost see through her. At that moment I was happy that I wasn't her, but soon I would be. Soon she would be back from her bitter sweet ride with the driving instructor, and then I would be next.

        I looked out the window when I heard this car pull up, I saw a young woman in the drivers seat, and a older man sitting in the passenger seat. The small car paked in the spot right next to our Geo. The two got out, the older man holding a clip board lead the young girl in through the doors. They walked over to a waist-high desk, and a lady from across the room got up and walked over near them. Seeing the girls face, I could tell she was anticipating something, but I wasn't sure what because I couldn't hear them talking.

Then suddenly the girls face turned red, and It looked as if tears were about to fill her eyes. The man then handed her a piece of paper, turned around, and walked back in the direction of the "drivers test" desk. The woman standing near the young girl then gave her a hug as water streamed from her eyes.

        Then I looked at my mom. "You think she passed?" I raised my eyebrows.

        "By the looks of it, I doubt it," she said.

        At this point, I became sort of nervious. I knew that I would be alright, but I still started to think about it too much.

        Then the older man, which we figured out was the driving instructor, came back.

He said out loud, "Carrie are you ready?"         I looked at her mother, and she had good luck written all over her face when she watched her daughter walk out with the instructor.

        I saw them walk out to a full size pick-up truck. I couldn't believe that the girl is going to take her test in that truck. At that time, I don't even think I could have handled driving a truck. I watched the girl get in, while the instructor stood infront of the truck.

The trucks lights turned on, and then off. Then the driving instructor walked around to get in the red colored pick-up. Then I saw them slowly back up, then pull away, going out of view--figuring that girl would never beable to pass her test with her red truck.

        Once they left I couldn't get the driving instructor out of my head. He was a really large guy. The driving instructor was probably six ten. He had a grey trenchcoat on which popped out where his gut stuck out. He looked like a football player, one that played in the eighties, with curly brown hair. He was wearing think silver-framed glasses that stuck off his face about two full inches.

        The instructor sort of made me laugh, and when I did, my mom looked at me and said, "What are you laughing at."         I just looked back and said, "Nothing," smiling.

        Then I soon realized that I was next, so I sat back and started to relax. I closed my eyes trying to clear my mind, but the thought of that girl who left in tears didn't leave my head. I kept trying to justify her failing was because she was a girl; but I knew that was wrong. No matter how hard I tried to get her off my mind, I couldn't. I started to get antsy, but worse off, I started to wonder if I was going to even pass. Up to this point I was alright, but now, the pressure was on.

        "When do you think they will be...back," I said as I saw them pull in the front row spot that was bare from the time they left.

        My mom looked at me and then nodded towards the window which I was already watching. The instructor and the girl walked in through the doors next to us. The instructor lead the young girl over to the desk. He pulled off the paper and showed it to her, I wasn't sure if she passed or not because I couldn't see her face. The instructor left, walking to the other desk. Then the young girl turned around and walked to her mother with a smile. When I saw this I felt much better.

        My mother said with amazement, "Well it looks like she did pass."         "Yeah and now I'm next."         Then my mom saw the instructor walking toward us.

        "Well, goodluck Micheal. You'll do fine." my mom said with an encouraging tone.

        The Instructor looked at me. "Mike?"         I nodded, standing up I said, "Yes."         "Lets get going."         We walked out to my Geo Prizm parked next to the girls red truck.

        "How about you get in, buckle up, turn on the lights, and don't start the car." he said. I turned on the lights and then turned them off.

        Then he said, "ok how about the blinkers. Right blinker. Left blinker." Then he walked behind the car, and said, "Break. Right blinker. Left Blinker."         After he was satisfied the lineman-sized instructor opened the Geo's door and slid in. When he sat, his head hit the top of the car, and his knees stuck up to his chest. He put his clipboard under his arm, and slid the seat back, doing this gave him a little more room. Then he said, "lets hear the horn."         So gladly I honked the horn.

        Then he said, "You can turn on your lights, then you can back out, pull around the right side of the building and to stop by the pole."         I came to a stop by the pole wondering what he was going to make me do. Then he said, "ok now your going to have to back up in a straight line."         I never remembered anyone telling me anything about backing up, but I did, making sure I didn't go too fast.

        Then the instructor said quickly, "pull out of the parking lot, and turn left at the stop sign."         Now I pulled out, making sure to look in the mirrors, and to drive slow. I stopped at the sign and looked both ways, when the coast was clear, I pulled out into traffic. Up ahead was a four-way stop.

        "Ok now stop here a the sign and turn left."         I thought to my self that this was easy so far. I thought it was pretty easy so far. I didn't know how much harder it could get. I approched the stop signs, and came to a stop. The cars going the opposite direction stopped, and then went. Now it was my turn.

The four-way stop was busy, cars at each intersection. I started to go, but then saw that the guy to my left accelerate through, right infront of me. As I slamed on my breaks, the intstructor said, "stop, stop, stop!"         By the time he was done with his second stop, my car was motionless, and the other car was passed me. I couldn't believe what just happened.

        Confused, thinking I went at the wrong time, I said, "It was my turn, right?"         He nodded when I started to finish my turn and said, "yeah that guy just cut you off, the only thing you forgot was the horn. You should have honked at him."         It seemed like the instructor was mad at me because I didn't use the horn. I couldn't understand why he wasn't happy with me stopping in time (who cares if I don't honk the horn, as long as I stop in time). I couldn't understand why he sounded so negative about me not honking the horn.                         We drove on through a stoplight, and then the instructor told me to turn into residential road. I kept the speed at twenty five, because I knew that was the speed limit when drving in a unmarked residential zone. When we were in an open spot the instructor made me do a "Y" turn and then go back to the DMV.

        I wasn't really sure what to expect as I drove back. All I could think of was the first girl that left crying. Then I couldn't understand how I would fail, unless I did something wrong I didn't notice. Keeping the speed at a steady thirty, the instructor didn't say much anything at all.

        I drove back to the four-way stop where I was almost hit, and I pulled down the road where the DMV was. Then I pulled in the parking lot and found my front-row spot.

Then I put the car in park and turned off the engine.

        The instructor then clipped his pen to the top of his clipboard, and said, "Ok, lets go inside."         I couldn't tell by the tone of his voice if I had passed or not. We got out, and I shut my door with the keys in my hand hand. I looked up to see my mom in the window looking out, and I started to walk to the door, but then my instructor said, "Umm are you forgeting something?"         I was confused, and looked back at the car and saw that the lights were on. I quickly turned and smiled as I opened the door to my car and switched the lights off.

Walking in I really wasn't thinking about if I passed or failed, I was just thinking of the lights I left on. When I caught up to him he was almost at the desk. I walked to the desk in great suspense. Then when I was at the desk, he started talking about how I drove. All I heard was noise, really all I was listening for was a "pass" or "fail." I didn't know what happened yet.

        The as he reached out and handed me a sheet of paper, he said, "congragulations you passed."         At that point I didn't know what to think. All I did was turn to my mother, which already knew the outcome because of the smile on my face. I then walked over to the desk to get my picture taken. After 2 minutes, we were out of there with my license and a new driver.

        When we got out to the car, my mom asked me, "Do you want to drive?"         I smiled and said, "No I think I drove enough for today."         On the way home I told my mom what happend, with the other car that ran the sign. She almost didn't believe that it happend to me. Then I remembered the paper I still had in my hand, I opened it. It was the grading sheet of my test. At the bottom there was a number circled; how many points I got off. It made my mom's jaw drop when I showed her the "zero."